Should you put a dog down with vestibular disease?

In this article, we will delve Should you put a dog down with vestibular disease and explore whether euthanasia is truly the only option.

Imagine your beloved furry companion suddenly losing balance and stumbling around the house like a drunkard. Its head tilts to one side, eyes darting uncontrollably, and vomit splatters across the floor. 

This alarming display of symptoms could be a result of vestibular disease, a condition that affects dogs and disrupts their sense of balance. But should you consider putting your dog down when faced with this distressing situation? 

It is important to note that vestibular disease is not typically life-threatening and most dogs can recover from it with proper care and treatment. Many dogs with vestibular disease improve over time and regain their balance and coordination. It is advisable to consult with your veterinarian to determine the severity of your dog’s condition and discuss potential treatment options before considering euthanasia.

What is Vestibular Disease? 

Vestibular disease in dogs is a condition that affects the vestibular system, which is responsible for maintaining balance and coordination. It can be caused by various factors such as inner ear infections, tumors, or even idiopathic reasons. 

The symptoms of vestibular disease include sudden loss of balance, head tilting, unsteady gait, and involuntary eye movements known as nystagmus.

Types of Vestibular Disease in Dogs

There are several types of vestibular diseases that can affect dogs. The most common type is called idiopathic vestibular disease, which means that the cause is unknown. This typically occurs in older dogs and is characterized by sudden onset of symptoms such as loss of balance, head tilt, and rapid eye movements. While it can be alarming to witness, idiopathic vestibular disease usually resolves on its own within a few weeks with supportive care.

Another type of vestibular disease in dogs is peripheral vestibular disease, which is caused by issues with the inner ear or the nerves connecting the inner ear to the brain. This can be due to infections, trauma, tumors, or certain medications. 

Causes of Vestibular Disease

Vestibular disease in dogs can have several causes, and it is important to identify the underlying factors to provide appropriate treatment. 

One common cause is an inner ear infection, which can result in inflammation and affect the dog’s balance and coordination. Other potential causes include trauma or injury to the head or neck, tumors, certain medications, or even idiopathic vestibular disease, where no specific cause can be identified.

Diagnosis and Veterinary Evaluation

Diagnosis and veterinary evaluation of vestibular disease in dogs is essential for proper treatment and management. Vestibular disease is a condition that affects the inner ear and can cause symptoms such as loss of balance, head tilt, and abnormal eye movements.

Treatment Options 

Medical Treatment 

Vestibular disease in dogs can be a distressing condition, but with proper medical treatment, most dogs can recover fully. The first step in treating vestibular disease is to identify and address the underlying cause. This may involve blood tests, imaging scans, or other diagnostic procedures to determine if there is an infection, tumor, or other issue affecting the dog’s vestibular system.

  • 1. Medications 
  • 2. Dietary Adjustments 
  • 3. Home Care

Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy 

Rehabilitation and physical therapy can be extremely beneficial in managing vestibular disease in dogs. Vestibular disease is a condition that affects the inner ear and can lead to symptoms such as dizziness, loss of balance, and difficulty walking. 

Physical therapy can help by improving muscle strength and coordination, which can aid in restoring balance and mobility.

Surgery (when necessary) 

When it comes to treating vestibular disease in dogs, surgery is typically not necessary. 

Vestibular disease, also known as old dog vestibular syndrome or canine idiopathic vestibular disease, is a condition that affects the inner ear and causes symptoms like loss of balance, head tilt, and rapid eye movement. 

In most cases, this condition resolves on its own within a few days to weeks with supportive care.

Time and Patience: The Importance of Observation

Observation is crucial when it comes to detecting and managing vestibular disease in dogs. This condition affects the inner ear, causing balance and coordination issues. By carefully observing your dog’s behavior, you can identify early signs of vestibular disease such as head tilting, stumbling, or a loss of balance. 

What to feed a dog with vestibular disease

When it comes to feeding a dog with vestibular disease, it is important to consider their specific needs and symptoms. 

Dogs with vestibular disease may experience nausea, dizziness, and difficulty in eating or drinking. To make the feeding process easier for them, it is recommended to provide small, frequent meals throughout the day instead of one large meal.

How to feed a dog with vestibular disease

Feeding a dog with vestibular disease can be challenging, as the condition often causes dizziness, loss of balance, and nausea. Here are some tips to help you ensure your furry friend gets the nutrition it needs during this difficult time.

1. Adjust the feeding routine: Divide your dog’s meals into smaller, more frequent portions throughout the day. This can help reduce the risk of overeating or vomiting due to dizziness. Additionally, try to maintain a consistent feeding schedule to provide stability and routine for your dog.

2. Choose easily digestible food: Opt for easily digestible and bland foods such as boiled chicken, rice, or pumpkin puree. These options are gentle on the stomach and can help alleviate any digestive discomfort that may accompany vestibular disease.

3. Elevate food and water bowls: If your dog is experiencing difficulty with balance or coordination, consider elevating its food and water bowls to a height that is comfortable for it to reach without straining. This can make mealtime less stressful for your pup.

Do dogs pant with vestibular disease?

Yes, dogs with vestibular disease may pant as a symptom of their condition. Vestibular disease affects the inner ear and can cause a range of symptoms including head tilt, loss of balance, and difficulty walking. 

Panting is a common response in dogs when they are experiencing discomfort or distress. It is their way of regulating their body temperature and releasing stress. Therefore, it is not uncommon for dogs with vestibular disease to pant as they try to cope with the symptoms they are experiencing.


The decision to put a dog down with vestibular disease is a deeply personal and difficult one. It requires careful consideration of the dog’s overall quality of life, the severity of their symptoms, and the potential for improvement with treatment. 

While the vestibular disease can be distressing for both the dog and their owner, it is important to consult with a veterinarian who can provide guidance and support throughout the decision-making process. Ultimately, the goal should be to prioritize the well-being and comfort of the dog, taking into account their individual circumstances.

 It is essential to approach this decision with compassion and empathy, seeking professional advice when needed.

Also, read this article. How long can a dog live with liver disease?

1 thought on “Should you put a dog down with vestibular disease?”

Leave a Comment